Sunday, February 14, 2010

Let Freedom Ring - Washington, DC

Destination:   Washington, DC
Number of Days Spent:  2 days
Where we stayed:   We stayed with Tracy's friend, Krista, & her boyfriend Eric.  Thanks guys for putting us up!  We had a great weekend! 
Best restaurant:    Krista & Eric's neighbors had a chili cook-off.  With so many types of chili to sample we have no real recollection of how much we ate.  They were all delicious!
Worst of:'s winter time!  Bundle up to keep the cold out!
Best of:  All the great monuments are compact and easy to walk between, no crowds in winter

Useful Tip:  Nearly every museum, monument and garden is free making this a somewhat "budget" friendly destination.

Welcome to our Nation's Capital!  We both have spent a fair amount of time in this town.  Tracy spent a summer here doing an internship for the Senate and Jason used to visit an aunt that lived in Maryland growing up.  In fact, we met for the first time in DC in 1995...that's a long time ago!  With all the time we have spent here we have seen most of the monuments and museums.  Having just the weekend, we decided to just hit a few highlights here and there and spend the majority of our time catching up with Krista and Eric. 
After a stop at Five Guys for America's supposed best burger (we think the Cherry Cricket in Denver has it beat), we headed over to the Central Market.  The interior part of the market contains several meat shops, a couple of flower counters, as well as a few other more convenience store type stalls that are open all week.  On the weekends, the street outside the market fills with artisans and specialty type booths.  The whole area has an unexpected yuppie feeling to it with little coffee houses with heated patios and people out walking their 'out to impress' dogs.
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After strolling through the market, we walked back towards the Mall to check out the 'must-see's of DC'.  The Mall is the general term applied to the grassy area between the Capitol building and the Lincoln Memorial.  The space includes three major sites - the Lincoln, Washington and the newly created WWII memorial.  Flanking the mall are several other major sites including nearly all of the Smithsonian buildings, the White House, the Supreme Court and a host of others. 
One such place is the National Botanical Gardens.  This was one of the few places that was packed with people, partly because it was inside on a cold day and partly because the place was stunning.  Decorated for the holidays, little trains raced around all organic villages.  The whole place was decorated with a whimsical feeling like something out of a J.R.R. Tolkien novel, only with trains and without hobbits.
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The building blocks of our nation; the heroes, leaders and special moments that shaped and defined who we are, are manifested in Washington, DC in the form of granite and marble.  Often times we get carried away in their physical presence and overlook the blood, sweat and tears that these memorials represent.  The stillness of the crisp winter air coupled with not having dodge tour groups and duck under countless camera flashes has afforded me a new perspective when I come here.  The physical height of the Washington Monument fails to impress when compared with thoughts of him suffering along side of his troops in a valley one winter to fight for our country's independence.  The many tons of granite that make up the Lincoln Memorial is meaningless when compared to the impact of this great leader's actions and words on the African Americans that were oppressed in the United States for many generations.   The next time you look at the the 'monuments', take pause and reflect on what they really symbolize.  Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 
First stop, the Capitol Building!  Congress was in session even on a Sunday hammering out the "final" Health Care bill so no one was allowed to go inside without a gallery permit from their congressperson.   There were even snipers on the roof to make sure the peace was being kept.

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Next stop, the Washington Monument...representing our nation's first President, wooden teeth and all!
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After a beautiful walk down the mall and alongside the water we came upon the Lincoln Memorial.  It represents two of the most respected and well loved men in the history of the world, both meeting similar demise.  A statue of Lincoln dominates the interior with his famous "Emancipation Proclamation" carved on flanking walls.  Lincoln looks out over a small stone out front which symbolizes the spot where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his equally as powerful "I have a Dream" speech.
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New to the scene, and a long time overdue, is the WWII memorial.  Both the Pacific and European theaters are represented along with all 50 states and several territories an a symmetrically correct fashion.

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At night, the monuments are well lit and offer a different perspective. 
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Across from the Mall sits the famous White House lawn; home to Easter Egg hunts, numerous childrens events sponsored by sitting presidents, and the annual Christmas Tree...or is it Holiday Tree?  Either way the tree this year came from Arizona and all around the main tree are normal sized Christmas trees representing the different states and territories.  Music and dance performances are performed nightly on the weekends through the holidays and everything is totally free.
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While we only spent the weekend here, we felt like we hit a couple of highlights, accomplished what we wanted to, and saved our time for a new adventure - New York City!  Thank you Krista and Eric for hosting us, we will have to return the favor one day!
To see more photos from our nation's capital click here!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...; You saved my day again.